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Essay Paper on Slavery in Jamaica Compared to the United States

Slavery took place throughout all ages and within different cultures and continents, though its forms differed from one place to another. The word ‘slavery’ is defined as a social-economic arrangement where the person is driven out of his/her private liberty and isolation in addition to being enforced to do labor and/or perform various services. Moreover, it can be used in describing the situation when one person got treatment as material goods by another one, also known as “chattel slavery”. Results of the different researches done by the human rights organizations showed that there were more than 27 million sufferers from slavery all over the world. The foundation of slavery in Jamaica was different from other countries in the world. The current paper will compare and contrast slavery liberation in Jamaica and the United States.

Slavery Era in the United States

The slavery era in the United States started in 1619 and lasted until the end of 1863 when the 13th amendment of US constitution terminated slavery. It took place when a ship with 20 enslaved Africans came from Deutschland in a clash with a Spanish ship bound for the Caribbean. In the beginning of the 17th century, slavery was more common in the southern colonies than in the northern ones . In addition to African slaves, poor Europeans were brought in substantial numbers as indentured servants, particularly in the British Thirteen Colonies. The white citizens of Jamestown, who arrived from Britain themselves, decided to treat the first Africans in Virginia as indentured servants. With European indentured servants the African slaves were liberated after a stated period and given the use of land and supplies by their former masters. The major problem with indentured servants was that in time they were freed, they were unlikely to become prosperous since the best lands in the tidewater regions were already in the hands of wealthy plantation families by 1650. Thus, the former servants became an underclass. The wealthy landowners considered poor laborers and farmers as dangerous elements. By switching to pure chattel slavery, new white laborers and small farmers were mostly limited to those who could afford to immigrate and support themselves.

By looking deeply throughout the history it is clear that the African people were officially imprisoned within the limitations of the present United States in the period between 1640 and 1865. According to the historical books, the enormous mass of the slaveholding occurred in the southern United States. The statistics show that prior to war merely one out of four of the Southern families held slaves. According to the 1860 U.S. census, less than 385,000 individuals owned one or more slaves. Moreover, the majority of blacks, namely 95%, lived in the South of the United States. It can be comprised as one out of three of the southern population was opposed to 1% of the population of the North.

According to the statistics, merely 12 million Black Africans were shipped to the United States (previously the Americas) in the period between the 17th and the 19th centuries. Merely 5.4% (645,000 slaves) among them were brought to the United States and, as a result, the shipping of the African slaves increased the slave population in the U.S. to reach the limit of 4 million by the 1860 .

Despite of numerous disadvantages and negative features of slavery, one of its positive things toward the United States was that the development of Negro race slaves seriously improved the US wealth at the first half of the 19th century. However, because of the victory of the North over the South in the Civil War, the slave-labor system was abolished in the southern states. As a result, large southern cotton plantations became much less profitable without free labor force of slaves. The agricultural field of the South was not so developed than the Northern industries, which had expanded rapidly before and during the war. Industrialists dominate many aspects of the nation’s life, including social and political affairs. As a reason of that, the planter aristocracy of the South disappeared and the rapid economic development following the Civil War laid the groundwork for the modern U.S. industrial economy.

By browsing many historical books written by well-known writers such as John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger, it is clear that the majority of slaves during all the times and eras were black. Only in some cases, the slaveholders themselves were black or had black ancestry. On the other side, the south of the US was one of the biggest regions that had slavers in the country. At the beginning of 1830, there were merely 3375 slaveholders in the south cities of US such as Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland with merely 80% of population as the slaveholders. According to historian James Oakes, at the beginning of the 19th century slaveholders in the majority of the southern states rarely gave freedom to their slaves. On the other hand, in the 1850s “there were growing efforts to limit the right to clutch bondsmen on the grounds that slaves must be kept ‘as far as possible and be in command of white men only”.

There are many books mentioned the slavery in the United States and other countries, one of those books is “Slavery is a mode of compulsion that has often prevailed where land is abundant” by the historian Edmund S. Morgan. He mentioned that, the white European settlers came to the New World and with land in their hands, the need and desire for labor quickly followed. In the formation of the United States, the need for labor to develop the land has been seen to be colorblind . Thus, indentured servants firstly filled this general demand for laborers: whites who agreed to labor contracts with explicit terms, conditions, and time limitations in return for payment of passage to the New World. With Great Britain having its own economic difficulties, intensified by the English civil wars and a spurt in population growth, white labor proved readily available. In addition to that, indentured servants were cheaper than bought slaves were. This principally held true in light of the high mortality rates in the Chesapeake colonies through the 1660s. It simply made good economic sense to use indentured servants acquired at a lower primary cost. As a reason of the availability of white indentured servants declined, in part due to the horrifying conditions in Virginia, and as primary mortality rates dropped, landowners more and more turned to purchasing slaves, either individuals transported directly from Africa or blacks of African descent brought from the Caribbean. This way describes how the framework and arrangement for black slavery had been established in the colonial era…

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